The name Eric Ryder wasn’t always synonymous with bike racing. Before the thrill of bike racing across the world, he was an everyman. This is the history of Hang-On.
Eric was a common man, nearing his 50’s, living a common life, working a common nine to five job. Then he would come home, eat a common dinner, then go to bed. Day in and day out, this was his routine. His supervisor began to work him hard during the days, and lately, even during the nights. He worked so much overtime, without overtime pay, that and his kids barely had a chance to see him anymore.
The work he did was meaningless. His supervisor didn't even know him by name, and he never received any words of motivation. He never climbed the corporate ladder, his salary was stagnant, he was still in debt, and like many other men in corporate America, he was only lining the pockets of the overpaid fatcats who ran his business and the rest of the country.
Eric, like so many upper-lower-middle class citizens, was in a rut. One day, on his drive home, he began to wonder if this was all there was to his life. He needed some rejuvenation, a new purpose, but what? All he needed was a sign. And as fate would have it, the sign stood right out front of a motorcycle dealership, along with one slick looking sport bike.
When his eyes met the slick design and bold colors of the bike, his eyes burned with a fiery new passion. He knew this was it, and it was now or never. He had to get this one of a kind bike before anyone else could. Unbeknownst to Eric and about 10,000 or more other middle aged men across the country, this was really just a marketing ploy cooked up by the motorcycle business. See, advertising for many major companies had been slow, possibly due to a recession. People weren't buying anything, and shareholders needed their money. So they forced advertising to get creative. The motorbike company, for example, played off of the emotions of impulsive men by pulling the "last of it's kind" card. The motorbike companies, along with other advertisers, also cooked up an idea of holding a open participant motorcycle race, where both professionals and the chumps who bought all these "unique" bikes could be bombarded with thousands of advertisements before the day was over, inducing a subliminal effect. It would be a win-win for all advertisers, so long as the dealers had tantilized their customers with ideas of youth, fame and fortune.
And that's how the race came to be. Eric, a few big names in motorcycle racing, and probably every other dad in the United States, all with the same make and model of sport bike had lined up at the staring point. It was literally the nation's largest motorcycle race, as the amount of opposing racers seemed nearly infinite, arbitrary even.
The road was long, through all kinds of terrain, and the race would continue on from the day...
...and well into the night, going until daybreak once again. Of course, this was all intended by the advertising agencies, as they knew these men would tire out and lose their focus having to race nearly 24 hours without rest or food. This would make them more susceptible to product placement. Eric, however, was different. He kept his eye on the prize. No more working a thankless job, no more debt, he wanted to be finacially free. He had the determination of a champion, and a driving force to push toward the top position. And when that checkered flag came down, it was Eric who claimed the first position after all.
And that's the story of the great race that would make Eric Ryder a Hang-On legend. Dads across America reclaimed their youth through buying consumer goods, advertisers helped bring the market back up again. Eric himself quit his old job, and took his bike from state to state, country to country, racing and meeting meet new people, winning awards, and living a free life, only following his youthful drive.
His kids still haven't seen their dad in ages.
For those more familiar with the Sega Master System port, Hang-On is a fairly similar experience to the arcade version, with a few differences. Aside from graphics and that all opposing racers are even more arbitrary, there's the distinct lack of advertising bombardment, and no BGM except only on the title screen. The checkpoints allot more time than the arcade counterpart, and, inventively, the biggest difference is that now you have to manually shift gears using up and down on your control pad. For example, you can't turn a sweeping curve without shifting down, and when starting from zero, you have to build speed in each gear instead of shifting straight to top speed.
Another thing to watch for is that everything kills you in this game. In the original, bumping into a biker would only knock you off course, usually into an off road collision. And with continuous collisions, it seems like you get more resilient to the point that you shrug them off. On the Master System, however, everything results in a flaming death, including crashing into bikers themselves.